Most Yellowstone roads close for winter, free admission for Veterans’ Day


Yellowstone National Park has closed for the summer season and is preparing for the Dec. 15 start of the winter season. (Ruffin Prevost/Yellowstone Gate file photo)

From Staff Reports

Most roads in Yellowstone National Park have closed for the end of the season, but the North Entrance road from Gardiner, Mont. to Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo. and on to Cooke City, Mont. remains open year-round.

Visitors to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and all national parks can enjoy free admission this weekend in honor of Veterans’ Day. Free admission is offered to all visitors, not just to veterans or military personnel. The annual fee-free event was established in 2006.

Meanwhile, across most of the rest of Yellowstone, park staff members will begin preparing the roads for commercially guided snowmobile and snow coach travel for the winter season, which begins December 15.

Visitors driving in the north section of Yellowstone during winter are encouraged to have flexible travel plans and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice.

At Mammoth Hot Springs, the Yellowstone General Store, Post Office, medical clinic, campground and the Albright Visitor Center remain open all year. Pay-at-the pump fuel is available 24 hours a day all year at Yellowstone Park Service Stations in Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.

All communities near and on the way to Yellowstone are open all year, with local businesses offering a wide range of fall and winter recreation opportunities depending on the weather, including hiking, fishing, hunting, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Information on fall and winter lodging, camping, services and activities near the park in the Montana communities of Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City and Silver Gate is available by contacting their respective Chambers of Commerce or from Travel Montana at 800-847-4868 or

Information on visiting the Wyoming communities of Cody and Jackson this fall and winter is available from their Chambers of Commerce, or by contacting Wyoming Travel and Tourism at 800-225-5996 or the Wyoming Tourism website.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts provides lodging, food service, and guided recreation opportunities in Yellowstone during the winter. Details are available by calling 866-GEYSERLAND, or online at the company’s website.

Extensive information and assistance for planning a visit to Yellowstone is available on the park’s web site at the National Park Service website.

Updated information on road conditions in Yellowstone is available 24-hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.

One thought on “Most Yellowstone roads close for winter, free admission for Veterans’ Day

  1. I bemuse that no matter what the weather , climate, prevailing snow conditions, or how much hair the Bull Moose put on for the ( alleged) approaching winter, our peerless bureaucrats will by gawd close that entrance gate at 8 AM sharp on the first full Monday in November to ” prepare” for the ( alleged) winter travel season.
    Why do they close anything at 8 ‘ o’clock in the morning? Instead of noon , 2 pm , the customary 4: 30 pm quitting time for the GS-8 crowd, or even 8 o’clock at night? Why first thing in the morning ?

    AND—my bigger grouse: the road and gate closures have not the least whit and spittle to do with actual conditions in the Park or with the roads… climatology and meteorology aside. Back in the late 1950’s, my family drove into Yellowstone up Sylvan Pass on Christmas Day, having no snow or Ranger to say we couldn’t. Fast forwarding, in the early years of THIS decade when I was working for a contractor in Yellowstone remodeling Old Faithful Inn’s SW wing, I drove my 2WD Volvo station wagon from OF to Madison and out the East Entrance on the DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING , November 23, unlocking barricade gates as I merrily went. The only other traffic on the Park roads were: 1 Ranger car, one NPS garbage truck , and 5-6 full size semi truck and 60 foot trailer moving vans ( Belkin, Red Ball, Allies, North Am ). This is what is termed ” administrative travel “. The roads are open and driveable, but only to Park Service employees and their assigns.
    Conversely , we used to drive into Yellowstone over Sylvan Pass in mid-April in some low snowpack years. The difference between then and now was some bureaucrat was not setting an arbitrary and capricious schedule a year out based on the simple calendar. The Park was opened according to nature, weather, and conditions on the ground. The seasonality, not the bureaucratic mentality.
    Bottom Line: what I have seen in Yellowstone in recent decades from both the Park Service and the concessionaire providing keys services ( such as the Bridge Bay Marina) is an incrementally shorter and shorter season. Yellowstone now opens 2-3 weeks later and closes 3-4 weeks sooner than it used to, merely because a schedule was pontificated and posted without regard to seasonality or the travelling public and gateway communities who have seen their recreation opportunity and economy wither away. It is not helpful that the Park Service operates on two sets of rules…their own , and those they foist on the public.
    Don’t even get me going on Winter Use. That is wholly FUBAR.